Healing Weeds - Getting a closer contact with the healing world of herbs and wild plants.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Primula veris (or P. officinalis)
NL: Echte sleutelbloem / F: Primevère officinale

This precious herb was once an abundant perennial, widely harvested at springtime for food and for its highly praised medicinal properties. This was before current farming practices took over most lands. 

Young leaves and flowers are nutritious additions to salads and smoothies. The leaves can also be added to enrich soups and stews. 

Its leaves, before flower

Flowers, leaves and root have been used since ancient time as sedative, nervine, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, expectorant and antispasmodic. That means that it may help to treat spasms, cramps, asthma and other respiratory conditions, insomnia, fever, bruises and to ease painful conditions.

Simply another amazing plant!!

  Here is a nice super short video to help you to recognize Cowslip:

More on Cowslip:


a.k.a. Cleavers or Bedstraw
Galium aparine

NL: Kleefkruid / F: Gaillet gratteron

Goosegrass is known in the herbalist’s world as a blood purifier, an essential ingredient of any good herbal detox mix, or spring cleanser formula. Due to its detoxifying as well as diuretic properties, it is employed to treat a series of ailments such as wounds, skin inflammations, ulcers, eczema and even psoriasis. 

The detoxifying work of goosegrass seems to be partly linked to its ability to the cleanse lymphatic system. In popular medicine it is said to help to heal various glandular disorders, including tonsillitis, hepatitis and even some thyroid disorders.

Its aerial parts are also astringent, tonic, depurative, vulnerary. It is also antiphlogistic and febrifuge, making it a helpful herb to include in conditions that involve fevers.

Some herbalists claim that goosegrass is more effective when its fresh juice is used.

In principle the plant is edible, preferably its young shoot tops, collected in spring time. Its seeds lightly roasted seem to make a good coffee substitute. 

Attention: The sap of the plant can cause severe skin irritation in sensitive people.

More on this herb:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

California poppy

Eschscholzia californica
NL: Slaapmutsje / F: Pavot de Californie

This plant makes its appearance spontaneous in many grounds, but luckily its gorgeousness will prevent most people from removing it from their garden. In fact, many people even plant it as an ornamental in their gardens. 

Its seeds are edible, as are the seeds of other family members of this plant (Papaveracea). In traditional medicine it has been employed as sedative, milder than opium, to treat insomnia, without risks of dependency. It is also known for its antidepressant, antihistaminic, antispasmodic and anxyolitic properties. 
Its leaves before flowering

As a muscle relaxant, it helps to relieve some kind of pains. It is also said to relieve toothache, nervous tension, anxiety, panic attacks and to reduce stress. 

California Poppy has also been studied for its effect in improving certain brain functions such as concentration and memory.

It induces sweating and urination, but at the same time it has also been used to treat incontinence. 

Externally it can be used to speed up wound healing, as it has also contains antimicrobial substances.

It should not be used by lactating mothers as it suppresses milk secretion.

It finds its way even in the harshest environments

Here is a video with more practical information on how to grow this herb:

California Poppy, from HerbMentor


Veronica filiformis
NL: (Draad)ereprijs / F: Véronique filiforme

This plant can be easily recognized from its purplish little flowers that, together with the gorgeous daisies, make grass fields everywhere look like stunning nature creations. 

But speedweel is not only a cute little plant. It is employed in herbal preparations as anti inflammatory, tonic, expectorant and diaphoretic. Speedwell has also diuretic, depurative, liver protective and tonic properties. It is astringent (it contains tannins) and bitter. Many herbalists use it to relieve various types of allergies.

Externally it can be used in ointments to treat skin inflammations, wounds and eczema.

It used to be consumed as a tonic and relaxing tea in England.

There are still some other medicinal uses that have been attributed to speedwell, such as to ease gastrointestinal troubles, rheumatic complaints and even to increase memory, reduce vertigo and to treat depression.

There are various other similar species from the Veronica family, such as Veronica arvensis or V. chamaedrys that have shown similar medicinal properties and that also have similar purple flower.

It is a lovely and great addition to any ecological garden, as ground cover.

Veronica chamaedrys

Veronica officinalis

More information on Speedwell:

What is Speewell?

Speewell, by A Modern Herbal

Common Speedwell, short video

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Purple Deadnettle

Lamium purpureum

Lamium purpureum

NL: Paarse Dovenetel / F: Lamier purpre

These pretty flowering plants are to be found at their best shape everywhere at this time of the year. Its aerial parts are edible - raw or cooked. 

It is rich in various antioxidants, particularly  flavonoids and vitamin C.
Its flowers can be used to decorate salads or desserts and the entire aerial portion is very easy and palatable to be blended into smoothies, for instance with banana, mango or strawberries. 

It has been used in traditional herbal medicine to reduce allergic reactions and as anti-inflammatory. Its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties have also been studied, in an attempt to explain its role in reducing allergies.  

Its most known medicinal uses in traditional herbalism are as astringent, diuretic, diaphoretic and purgative. Its leaves can be used fresh, squeezed and applied on the skin to help stop bleeding and heal cuts and wounds.

For anyone wanting to grow this plant in the garden, you'll find some quick tips in this video:

Flower gardening tips: how to grow dead nettle

More information on Lamium purpureum:

Purple Dead Nettle - Castanea Blog

Purple Dead Nettle and Allergies - Livestrong.com

Eating Green: Lamium purpureum -


Tussilago farfara

NL: Klein hoefblad / F: Tussilage

Coltsfoot has been known as a powerful expectorant, demulcent, diaphoretic and antitussive in traditional herbalism, being prescribed for a wide range of respiratory ailments, from common colds and coughs, sore throats to bronchial asthma and chronic emphysema. It is also known for its skin healing properties, being used externally to treat eczema, inflammations, burns, skin ulcers, wounds and bites.

There are suggestions of coltsfoot extracts being used to increase immunity.  

Leaves are found separately from the flowers
The entire plant is known by foragers as a wild edible. I personally would only eat it unless in a situation of serious need, as the plant contains liver-harzardous pyrrolizidine alkaloids and is potentially toxic in large doses - especially the flowering stems. Such alkaloids are mostly destroyed by decoction. The leaves contain less of these alkaloids and are the safest part of the plant to be used. 

Here is a nice video with more information on identifying coltsfoot:

More information and links to recipes with coltsfoot:

Coltsfoot - Tussilago farfara, by Celtnet

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Wild Pansy

Viola tricolor
A.k.a. Heartsease   
NL: Driekleurig viooltje / F: Pensée sauvage

Another spontaneous plant that can beautifully decorate our gardens as well as take part in original salad creations. It is rich in beta carotene and vitamin C.

This plant has been used in traditional herbalism for a long list of conditions, including:
  • bronchitis, asthma and other respiratory conditions, for its expectorant properties.
  • skin irritations, psoriasis, acne and eczema - as a blood purifying herb.
  • rheumatism and cystitis, due to its diuretic properties and salicylic acids.

There is no scientific data on toxicity or risks of overconsumption, even though some herbalists warn that nausea and skin irritation can appear as a result of using too much of it.

Hairy Bittercress

NL: kleine veldkers / F: cardamine hérissée
Cardamine hirsuta

This cute plant from the family of the mustard remains green through the winter months. 

As other plants from this family (Brassicacea), this one is also loaded with vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, beta carotene, antioxidants and sulfur-containing compounds that boost immunity and help in cancer prevention. 

You can find this plant in flower now in most places, particularly in shadowy corners.

In this video you can learn to identify this cress:

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Tanacetum vulgare
NL: Boerenwormkruid / F: Tanaisie commune

Tansy can already be seen growing with full power all over the fields where we go walk with our dogs, as well as in our own garden. This is one of my favorites! 

Although is not an edible, it is a great plant to have in the garden. It protects other plants from attacks of parasites and undesirable insects while it attracts beneficial insects, such as bees.  It can be dried and stored for further use as “remedy” in the garden. For that purpose, a strong decoction of the entire plant is made, drained and used to spray plants. It also helps to concentrate potassium in the soil, so it is a superb herb to have next to composting piles. 

For its repellent properties, it is a nice plant to have near the kitchen. The dried plant can also be used in sachets to protect the house against flies and it even protects clothes from being eaten by different insects. 

It can also be used to protect dogs from fleas and ticks. Use a strong decoction massaged on their fur after washing them. 

Traditionally this plant used to be prescribed as a good anthelmintic (against worms), hence its Dutch name “boerenwormkruid” (literally= the farm’s herb for worms). Some herbalists still prescribe this plant to treat migraines, painful menstruation, fevers, rheumatism, meteorism (when gas is stuck in the intestines and needs to get out). 

Before the invention of pesticides, tansy was widely used to repel flies. For that it had its oil distilled and then diluted in alcohol, alone or together with other plant oils such as fleabane and pennyroyal. 

It was also used as a food spice wish pulses dishes, such as lentils, in order to prevent gas formation, helping digestion. 

A strong decoction of the plant can be used in the bathwater as tonic and to help treat skin infections. 

Its toxicity is mostly attributed to a substance called thujone, which can be found in varied amounts in different plants, at different stages of its growth. Before using it internally you better get informed about safety on dosage or use a herb that has had its thujone content safely measured. 

Many organic farmers have started to plant this precious plant in their gardens, in order to offer protection to other cultivated plants. 

The video below will help you to identify tansy:

Click in the link below for a nice and extensive article on tansy:

Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare - Common Sense Homesteading